As a recent fan of House of Cards, I immediately recognized Joel Kinnaman. In HOC, he plays Governor Will Conway, the man who ran for president against Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood. I also took note of Michelle Forbes who I know as Ensign Ro from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Other than those two actors, I knew nothing about the show other than my wife loved it and constantly reiterated, “You know, you’d really love this show.”
Maybe, but isn’t The Killing yet another cop show?
Well, last night, I gave the first episode of season 1 a viewing. With a title like “The Killing,” you know there is going to be one, and you see it right out of the gate. No surprise there. But you don’t know who the victim actually is. The scenes of the victim running for her life are cut in with our lead character, Detective Sarah Linden on her last day as a detective with Seattle’s police department. We learn she’s going to marry her second husband and she and her fifteen-year-old son will move down near San Francisco. She’s packing her office when Kinnaman’s Stephen Holder waltzes in to his new office. Naturally, her boss instructs her to head up the investigation until 6pm that day. She’s got a flight at 9:30pm and, according to the boss, she’s still on the city’s dime.
Along with those scenes, you see a family with Michelle Forbes as the mom. It’s no slight of hand to know that this is the family to which the victim belongs, made even more obvious by the fact that their seventeen-year-old daughter hasn’t checked in since Forbes, her husband, and their two elementary age boys returned from their weekend camping trip.
You know where this is going as much as I did. The victim is the daughter. Detective Linden will somehow not get on the plane, and her last case will be the one that’ll likely cause some domestic strife with her fiancée.
But those elements are not in this episode. What is present is one of the more agonizing scenes of parents learning their child is dead I have ever seen. My benchmark for this kind of thing is Sean Penn’s character from Mystic River. That animalistic roar that Penn spews out is heartbreaking. In The Killing, you have something similar. Brent Sexton plays the father and he’s driving out to the location where his daughter’s friend said she went. He’s on the phone with Forbes. In the previous scene, the dad said he was heading out to the island to pick up their daughter. Forbes sighs with relief as does the dad…until he sees the police lights.
At the same time, the detectives are discovering the victim’s final resting place. Their reactions—especially that of Kinnaman (who is a narc cop coming over to homicide)—are great. But what tears your heart out are the reactions from the dad and Forbes, who can only hear what’s going on via her phone. Excellent, excellent scene and it truly rips your heart out of your chest.
What began, for me, as yet another cop show transformed in that moment. I’m all in for The Killing.
Yeah, I guess my wife was right after all.